Don is one of New Zealand's leading economic and financial policy advisers and over the years he has provided advice to governments in many parts of the world.
In 2009, he was appointed to chair the New Zealand Government's 2025 Taskforce and remained chairman until the Taskforce was wound up in May 2011. The Taskforce was charged with investigating the reasons for the recent decline in New Zealand's productivity performance, identifying superior institutions and policies in Australia and other more successful countries, and making recommendations on the steps needed for New Zealand to achieve Australian living standards by 2025.
Earlier, Don was a Member of Parliament, having resigned as Governor of the Reserve Bank on 26 April 2002 in order to enter Parliament, with the stated motivation of reducing the gap in living standards between New Zealand and Australia. In 2003, he was elected Leader of the Opposition and used this position to move public debate forward on a number of key issues. He received considerable public support, helping to raise the National Party's share of the party vote from 20.9 % in the 2002 election to 39.1 % in the 2005 general election, the highest share of the total vote that National had obtained since the 1990 election. He also led political party ACT New Zealand in the 2011 election but did not get elected to Parliament on that occasion.
Before entering Parliament, Don was Governor of the Reserve Bank for almost 14 years. He is an inaugural member of the Motu Hapū.